A rotator cuff injury occurs when the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulders are torn. The tear can occur in two ways: in a single instance of trauma or a series of “micro traumas”. In the case of the latter, this can occur over a period of weeks, months or years. Physiotherapy has proven to be an effective form of treatment for rotator cuff injuries, with results comparable to that of surgery. Utilizing the body’s natural range of motion, physiotherapy gradually restores the function of the rotator cuff.

Physiotherapy For Rotator Cuff Injuries

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

The biggest symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are pain and a reduction in the range of motion. Quite often you cannot lift your hand above shoulder height and there is constant soreness. The pain might be severe enough to tear even the pain fibres resulting in weakness (rather than pain).

Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff injuries can be divided into seven stages:

Stage 1
The patient is advised on pain relief techniques and anti-inflammatory treatment

Stage 2
The patient gradually undergoes a series of light exercises to regain full range of motion

Stage 3
Scapular control is restored in the patient

Stage 4
The physiotherapist will work with the patient to restore neck-scapulo thoracic shoulder function

Stage 5
The patient’s rotator cuff strength is restored

Stage 6
The full speed of motion in the rotator cuff is restored

Stage 7
The patient returns to normal activities

Physiotherapy vs Surgery

A recent study that was conducted in Finland showed that physiotherapy was just as effective in treating rotator cuff injuries as surgery. Patients were given home exercises to do over a period of six weeks, followed by strength and resistance exercises over 6 months. After a period of one year the results were comparable with those who had undergone surgery.

Physiotherapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgery and the exercises are not difficult or painful. The aim is to restore function in a pain-free manner. Even if surgery is undertaken, physiotherapy is still utilized as a form of post-surgical treatment.

If you believe you have suffered a rotator cuff injury then you should consult your doctor to see if physiotherapy is an appropriate course of treatment. At Dynamic Physiotherapy we have a number of qualified practitioners who can thoroughly assess your situation and recommend an appropriate course of action.


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